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Worker fired after Arkansas restaurant hosts white supremacist meeting, owner says

By Rachel Herzog

This article was published September 25, 2017 at 11:54 a.m.

It wasn't bad coffee or poor service that led to a flood of negative online reviews for a Conway restaurant Sunday. Instead, users on a popular online review website denounced Mean Bean Cafe for hosting a white supremacist meeting.

Owner Dawnel Verkler said a longtime employee at the business on Dave Ward Drive near the University of Central Arkansas asked if the restaurant could be used after hours for a "political meeting of a conservative group."

Verkler said she questioned the employee about the nature of the meeting before leaving town for the weekend.

"We were assured that no extremist or other hateful views would be exchanged," Verkler said in a statement on the restaurant's Facebook page.

But photos from the Saturday meeting were posted online. They showed men holding up a flag emblazoned with a red-and-black Swastika and wearing patches with other apparent Neo-Nazi symbols.

Verkler told Arkansas Online she isn't sure exactly what happened, but she thinks the photos appeared on a political website before spreading to the restaurant's Facebook page and then onto Yelp, a crowd-sourcing review website.

The images have been deleted from the restaurant's Facebook page, but they still show up on Yelp, along with more than a dozen fiercely negative reviews referencing the meeting.

"If you're ever looking for the perfect place to hold a White Nationalist meeting, look no further. The hate flows just as pure as the coffee at the Mean Bean," one review read.

"Good food, but not worth having to sit with nazis," another read.

Verkler said she doesn't have a Yelp account and rarely uses social media, so she didn't find out about the posts until she began receiving phone calls from friends.

"I was disgusted and appalled," Verkler said. "We were led to believe it was a completely different situation. Had I been in town, that would not have been allowed."

Verkler posted two statements on the restaurant's Facebook page to explain her position.

"We in NO WAY support the group that held a meeting at the cafe yesterday," she said on the page. "We are appalled that the employee hijacked our business to provide a platform for hate and we absolutely denounce it and all forms of hate."

Verkler said the employee has been fired. She declined to give the employee's name.

She said she hopes people can direct their attention toward condemning hate itself rather than her restaurant.

"We support diversity. We support love," she said.


Comments on: Worker fired after Arkansas restaurant hosts white supremacist meeting, owner says

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0boxerssuddenlinknet says... September 25, 2017 at 12:42 p.m.

left wing conspiracy. conservative are not the hate group. the left has been pushing that agenda to get black votes for years. It was the dixie democrats that fought against the civil rights movement. and the democratic party is still trying to racially divide. Since I have been a conservative my whole adult life while literally living around the world including Conway, Arkansas I can honestly tell you I have never heard a conservative voice or act anything but disgust for socialism. communism, and anything to do with the white supremacy movement. I don't know that I would categorize a white ignorant redneck as a conservative. while he is driving round town with a Confederate flag and jacked up tires on his pickup truck

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RBear says... September 25, 2017 at 12:48 p.m.

Boxer, you are right that the Dixiecrats opposes the civil rights movement but the Democrats kicked them out into the conservative wing of the Republican Party. Not all conservatives are white supremacists, but all white supremacists are conservative.

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0boxerssuddenlinknet says... September 25, 2017 at 1 p.m.

Don't know RBear accorrding to the definition of a conservative. one who holds on to traditional values. may not apply to skinhead rednecks.

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itryed says... September 25, 2017 at 1:22 p.m.

Swastikas? Who thinks this is " cool"?

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LRDawg says... September 25, 2017 at 1:35 p.m.

Was she really upset over the meeting....or upset about all the money she saw leaving her restaurant? I'd bet she knew this was going on....just didn't think it would cost her money. Glad i don't eat there and i NEVER will

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ARMNAR says... September 25, 2017 at 1:39 p.m.

I saw the pics from the event. Looked like a Trump rally.

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MsLed says... September 25, 2017 at 3:05 p.m.

I don't understand why people are so angry all the time now. If you haven't been on Twitter lately, may I suggest you don't. Name calling, cursing, threatening behavior, etc. It's ridiculous. I've never seen it this bad and I've lived in the South all my life. I'm starting to realize that my little piece of paradise here in Downtown Searcy is someplace I shall keep secret. I've lived here since 2007 and I couldn't ask for a better place to be right now. And, yes, I'm Black. Not that it matters around these parts.

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PopMom says... September 25, 2017 at 3:22 p.m.


Those groups usually do not inform the restaurants of the nature of their true nature. An Italian restaurant in Bethesda, MD was shocked when a bunch of white supremacists with swastikas showed up for a private party. This was held during the Trump inauguration. They were up here to celebrate.

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Kharma says... September 25, 2017 at 9:19 p.m.

But LRDawg is all knowing ... especially about LE matters ...

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NutButter says... September 25, 2017 at 11:19 p.m.

LRDawg & RBear, you nailed it. Well said.

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